FMCSA orders seizure-suffering bus driver out of service

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Friday, March 14, 2014

A Connecticut bus driver has been declared an imminent hazard to public safety after failing to disclose a history of dizziness and fainting during his most recent medical certification exam, according to a release from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The driver, Terence W. Slowther, has been ordered not to operate any commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order for Slowther is based upon his disregard of federal safety regulations, of the safety of his passengers, and of the motoring public.

On Feb. 9, Slowther was operating a commercial bus transporting a U.S. Coast Guard Academy men’s hockey team when he experienced a medical episode on Interstate 95 in Connecticut, according to the FMCSA release.

“When the vehicle started swerving erratically at a high rate of speed, a number of the cadet passengers removed Slowther from the driver’s seat and regained control of the vehicle, bringing it safely to a stop,” the release stated.

A subsequent investigation by FMCSA and Connecticut officials revealed that on Dec. 27, 2013, Slowther “failed to disclose prior episodes of dizziness and fainting occurring between 2010 and 2012 to his medical examiner as required during his CDL medical qualification examination.” He obtained his medical certificate following the physical.

The FMCSA reports that those conditions were previously disclosed to medical providers in January of 2011 and 2012. The report also stated that Slowther experienced “symptoms of dizziness while operating a passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle” on Nov. 3, 2010, but failed to disclose that incident as well.

Commercial drivers must pass a U.S. Department of Transportation medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their CDL, and legally drive a commercial motor vehicle. A U.S. DOT medical exam looks at a range of conditions to determine a driver's medical fitness, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision and hearing. 

Beginning May 21 of this year, interstate CDL drivers will be required to obtain their medical certification from a health care professional who is listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners and has been trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle.

FMCSA developed the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule as part of the agency’s commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers, and preventing commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. The new responsibilities of the medical examiner will include providing identifying information for each driver examined to the National Registry to prevent medically unqualified individuals from obtaining or retaining a CDL.

A copy of Slowther’s out-of-service order can be viewed here.

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